I’ve been a dedicated fashionista since my early teens, but lately the fashion industry has left me behind in its multi-coloured dust. I’m talking about the annoying trend to mismatch colours, patterns and fabrics. After years of coordinating my handbag with my shoes, I suddenly find myself frumpy and outdated. It seems “matchy-matchy” is a fashion no-no.
Fashion editors are dressing models in layers of wild colour and pattern. Sparkly striped tee with plaid leggings and forest-ranger boots? Check. Green tweed jacket with blue flowered blouse over red jeans and bright orange sandals? All right! Heavy woollen Grandpa sweater with sequined skirt and fuchsia tights? Bring it on! Honestly, the magazine models look like clueless three-year-olds who have dressed themselves for the very first time. I am this close to calling the fashion police.
But then, I spy a photo of those same fashion editors sitting in the front row at a show during Fashion Week. They are tastefully decked out in basic black, with matchy-matchy sunglasses and handbags. True, they’ve donned red stilettos to kick things up a notch, but let’s face it, they are not following their own nouveau fashion rules. I feel safe again, and très chic to boot.
In the culinary world, there are some matchy-matchy foods that should never be tampered with, although some have tried. Beef tenderloin with cabbage? Never! Black pepper on my frosting? Big no! Taco pizza? I’ll pass! Call me old-fashioned, but I stick to tried-and-true combos. And believe me, when I cook up these delicious dishes, nobody cares if my shoes match my handbag.
braised pork and sauerkraut
This is sauerkraut’s big year, having become the darling of the health industry. And why not? It’s high in fibre, calcium, potassium and iron, plus vitamins C and K. It’s also high in sodium, which is why some people rinse sauerkraut before adding it to the pot. I’ve tried rinsing it, but humbly put forward the thought that sauerkraut tastes better when added with its juices. The addition of nutrient-dense caraway seeds aids in the digestion of sauerkraut. If you like a sweet-and-sour note to your sauerkraut, add the brown sugar. I sometimes use brown sugar and sometimes don’t. It tastes great either way.
3–4 lb boneless pork loin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large jar sauerkraut (about 2–3 cups)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 cup chicken broth
1 can beer
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325˚F.
2. Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, in hot olive oil, brown the pork on all sides. Remove and set aside.
3. Add the sauerkraut with its juices, caraway seeds, thyme, paprika, broth, beer, bay leaves and brown sugar if using. Bring to a boil.
4. Return pork to the Dutch oven, nestling the roast into the sauerkraut mixture. Cover tightly and braise in the oven for 2 1/2 hours or until pork is fall-apart tender.
5. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve with buttered noodles, baked apples and glazed carrots.
The last time I made pork and sauerkraut, I served a chilled California Moscato — it was a delicious combination, although Riesling works well too.
greek shrimp with tomatoes, ouzo and feta cheese
The combination of fresh tomatoes, anisette-flavoured ouzo and tangy feta over briny-sweet shrimp is a marriage made on Mount Olympus, worthy of the gods. This dish requires what chefs call mise en place, or advance prep — before cooking, blanch and peel the tomatoes, peel, devein and rinse the shrimp, mince the onion and parsley and measure out the ouzo, hot red pepper flakes and oregano. After that, the dish comes together in less than 15 minutes.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp dried oregano
2 lb Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp ouzo or Pernod
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and rinsed
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1. Preheat broiler.
2. In a broiler-proof skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onion, hot red pepper flakes and oregano over medium heat until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes and cook over medium heat until tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in ouzo.
4. Arrange the uncooked shrimp on the tomato mixture. Sprinkle feta over the shrimp. Broil until feta is bubbly and slightly browned and shrimp are pink and cooked through. Watch closely, checking every 1 to 2 minutes. It should take less than 4 minutes to cook, depending on your broiler’s heat. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately with a loaf of crusty bread to soak up the juices. Also delicious served over orzo.
Herbaceous Oregon Pinot Gris is a good match for this dish.